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Blood on the carpet

first_imgCarvil Duncan is Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and by virtue of that office is also an ex officio member of the Police Service Commission and of the Judicial Service Commission. In his substantive position on the PSC, Mr Duncan is in charge of making appointments to public offices; removing and exercising disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such Offices. This is a key office in the running of the Guyanese state and as such is a constitutional office that received the robust constitutional protection.Last year, in a case that is still ongoing Mr Duncan was charged with criminal fraud allegedly committed when he was a member of the Board of GPL and which he is contesting. In April of this year, reports surfaced in the press that the government wanted Mr Duncan to resign from his chairmanship of the PSC. Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo claimed, as constitutionally required, he wrote Mr Duncan to show cause why the the president should not appoint a Tribunal to consider his fitness for continuing to hold his constitutional offices. Mr Duncan claims he never received any such letter and no proof has been proffered that he did.The President went ahead and appointed a Tribunal, which included one sitting judge over whom Mr Duncan technically would have supervisory authority. Mr Duncan then made a startling revelation that back in February, before the PM claimed to have written him, President Granger, in the presence of Minister of State Joseph Harmon, made him an offer that included a financial inducement for him to resign from his Constitutional positions. According to Mr. Duncan, the president insisted three times he did not want to “have blood on his carpet”. Mr Duncan asked to be given time to consider the offer which he later refused.The British expression “blood on the carpet” means that in an employment context, one could be fired precipitately. And directly after Duncan’s revelation, which Minister Harmon denied, President Granger suspended Mr Duncan from his constitutional offices. In the meantime, Mr Duncan had appeared before the Tribunal and informed them, of the reasons why they had no jurisdiction over him. He would be proceeding to the High Court to make the definitive determination.In light of the foregoing, it would appear that the administration was determined to remove Mr Duncan from the aforementioned commissions and was prepared to go to any lengths to do so. The first contentious issue is what exactly what grounds would the Tribunal be using as the determinants of “fitness”. Mr Duncan had exhibited no “physical or mental” challenges to make him arguably unfit and the only other ground was his probity in reference of the criminal charge against him. But as his lawyer pointed out, the presumption of innocence still exists in Guyana – including its constitutional protection. The question arises as to why then would President Granger have suspended him.The PPP has claimed the PNC dominated government is making a condign example of Mr Duncan because he is from their “constituency”, yet he has chosen to align himself with the party of “the other”. While this may or may not be so, the more troubling issue is the administration is clearly prepared to circumvent the rule of law to to have its own way. At a minimum, they should have waited for the High Court to pronounce on the bona fides of the Tribunal and then for the Magistrate Court to issue its judgement on the fraud changes against Mr Duncan.The inclination to subvert the rule of law by the Executive is also seen in the directive of the Cabinet to the Board of the GHPC – an autonomous entity – to send home and not renew the contract of its CEO. State Boards should be allowed to make their own determination on matters within their mandate without Executive directives.Guyana is clearly on a slippery slope; where are the guardians of democracy?last_img read more